By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Anyone who has followed high school basketball has felt the difference in the gym between the regular season and playoff time.
Check out “Tracking the Tournament” on MHSAA.com for every matchup from all 128 brackets, and see below for scores from last week that popped off the page plus a look at three of the most intriguing Districts in each division.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Detroit U-D Jesuit 79, Detroit Cass Tech 59 – Jesuit won the annual Operation Friendship matchup between the winners of the Detroit Catholic League A-B and Detroit Public School League tournaments – and they could meet again in the Division 1 championship game.
2. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 56, Mount Pleasant 44 – After sharing the Saginaw Valley League Blue title with Grand Blanc, the Cavaliers handed the Red champion Oilers their only loss of the regular season.
3. Carleton Airport 69, Monroe St. Mary 59 – With this win, the Jets earned a share of the Huron League title, their first conference title since 2001 and after finishing 2-19 overall last season.
4. Hanover-Horton 78, Ypsilanti Lincoln 73 – The Comets look even more dangerous in Division 3, finishing 19-1 and defeating a Division 1 contender in the Southeastern Conference White champion Railsplitters.
5. Manton 62, McBain 57 – Two weeks after suffering their only Highland Conference loss to McBain, Manton won the rematch to claim the league title outright.
Districts at a Glance
These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:
Ann Arbor Huron (13-7), Ann Arbor Pioneer (18-2), Belleville (13-7), Saline (11-9), Ypsilanti Community (13-6), Ypsilanti Lincoln (16-4).
Southeastern Conference Red champion Pioneer and White champion Lincoln are lined up on opposite sides of the bracket, and both have byes tonight. Pioneer has won 11 straight and will have to fend off either Red co-runner-up Huron or fourth-place Saline in a semifinal. Lincoln will see either White runner-up Ypsilanti Community (which it most recently beat by a point Feb. 15) or host and Kensington Lakes Activities Association East co-champ Belleville on Wednesday.
Clarkston (17-2), Lake Orion (12-8), Oxford (19-1), Rochester Adams (17-3), Romeo (8-12), Waterford Kettering (9-11).
The reigning Class A champion Wolves haven’t lost since Dec. 4, the second of two defeats to open the season. They’ve also had just two single-digit wins among those 17 straight. But after winning the Oakland Activities Association Red, Clarkston may have to go through two more league champs with OAA White title winner Adams up tonight and Blue champion Oxford on the other side of the bracket.
Grand Haven (13-7), Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills (13-7), Grand Rapids Union (11-9), Muskegon (17-3), Muskegon Mona Shores (5-14), Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (15-5).
The most anticipated matchup may be a possible third meeting between Muskegon High and Reeths-Puffer, which split during the regular season. The Big Reds didn’t lose another game after falling in the first meeting, running off 13 straight victories and claiming the Ottawa-Kent Conference Black title. Reeths-Puffer, on the other hand, has lost four of its last six games including twice to Kenowa Hills – tonight’s District opponent.
Ada Forest Hills Eastern
Ada Forest Hills Eastern (10-10), Grand Rapids Catholic Central (18-2), Grand Rapids Christian (15-5), Grand Rapids Wellspring (11-8), Grand Rapids West Catholic (12-8), Wyoming Lee (2-17).
Grand Rapids Catholic Central came within a basket of winning Class B last season, falling by a point in overtime to Benton Harbor in the championship game. The Cougars bounced back with a perfect run through the Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue and losses only to also-league champions Canton and Grand Rapids South Christian. Grand Rapids Christian finished second to the Sailors in the O-K Gold and will look to play spoiler, although the Eagles first must get past surging West Catholic tonight.
Allegan (5-15), Allendale (13-6), Hamilton (7-13), Hopkins (15-4), Holland Christian (16-4), Hudsonville Unity Christian (18-2).
Unity Christian has won 14 straight and held off Holland Christian by 21 and then just five to win the O-K Green outright. They could meet again Wednesday if Unity gets past O-K Blue runner-up Allendale in tonight’s opener. O-K Silver runner-up Hopkins has won 10 of its last 11 games and has a bye on the other side of the bracket.
Algonac (0-20), Macomb Lutheran North (9-11), Marine City (15-4), New Haven (19-1), Richmond (19-1), St. Clair (10-10).
New Haven – a Class B semifinalist last year and champion in 2017, and featuring Mr. Basketball candidate Romeo Weems – is among favorites to win the Division 2 championship. But the Rockets will face at least one immediate challenge. Their side of this bracket includes Lutheran North and Algonac. But in the District Final, New Haven could see Blue Water Area Conference champion Richmond or Marine City, which celebrated its first league title since 1985 in taking the Macomb Area Conference Bronze.
Blissfield (11-8), Clinton (7-13), Erie-Mason (18-2), Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (15-4), Ottawa Lake Whiteford (6-14), Petersburg-Summerfield (18-2).
League champions Erie-Mason (Lenawee County Athletic Association), Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (Huron League, shared) and Petersburg-Summerfield (Tri-County Conference) make this an especially tough bracket, with the latter two possibly meeting Wednesday. St. Mary tonight has to be careful with Blissfield, which has won eight of its last 10 games. Summerfield’s only defeat came to Erie-Mason, by 20 on Feb. 13.
Carson City-Crystal (18-2), Lakeview (6-12), Morley Stanwood (18-1), Pewamo-Westphalia (20-0), Saranac (0-17).
Three league champions fill out 60 percent of this bracket – Carson City-Crystal from the Mid-State Activities Conference, Morley Stanwood from the Central State Activities Association Silver and Pewamo-Westphalia from the Central Michigan Athletic Conference. P-W and Morley Stanwood are on the same side of the bracket and could meet Wednesday – P-W has had three games in single digits all season and the Mohawks have two wins by only single digits and a five-point loss to Grant. Carson City-Crystal’s defeats came to another league champion Sanford Meridian and a runner-up, Reese.
Iron River West Iron County
Calumet (16-4), Iron River West Iron County (10-8), Iron Mountain (20-0), Ironwood (19-1), L’Anse (11-8), Norway (8-11).
This District also includes three league champions – Ironwood from the Indianhead Conference, Calumet from the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper and undefeated Iron Mountain from the West-PAC Iron. The latter two met Dec. 7, an overtime Iron Mountain win, and could meet in Friday’s District championship game. But Ironwood could have something to say about that – it meets Iron Mountain tonight in one of the most anticipated District openers statewide. Ironwood’s only loss came last week to a league runner-up, Bessemer.
Bloomfield Hills Roeper (14-6), Novi Christian (14-6), Southfield Christian (14-6), West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy (13-7).
Reigning Class D champion Southfield Christian would seem a heavy favorite in just about any Division 4 District having won 12 of their last 13 games after opening with a number of much larger schools. But Novi Christian – tonight’s opponent – finished second to the Eagles in the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue and lost the rematch Feb. 5 by only 10, one of the closest Southfield Christian wins of this closing run. Frankel Jewish Academy also was a league runner-up, in the Detroit Catholic League Intersectional 2, and Roeper was third in the MIAC Red.
Baraga (0-20), Chassell (15-5), Dollar Bay (16-4), Hancock (2-18), Lake Linden-Hubbell (7-12).
Dollar Bay advanced to the Class D Semifinals a year ago and had won nine straight during this regular-season’s second half before falling to Chassell 62-54 on Friday – the win clinched the Copper Mountain Conference Copper Country championship for the Panthers. They could meet for a third time Wednesday; Chassell also won the first meeting Dec. 17 by nine.
Bear Lake (11-8), Brethren (11-8), Buckley (8-11), Fife Lake Forest Area (2-17), Frankfort (14-5), Onekama (12-7).
This District actually doesn’t include a league champion. But Frankfort finished second to Division 3 contender Maple City Glen Lake in the Northwest Conference, and Onekama was third. Reigning Class D runner-up Buckley tied for fifth after graduating most of last season’s contributors – but beat Frankfort by 14 last week.
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PHOTO: Flint Carman-Ainsworth and Grand Blanc meet in a Division 1 District opener after sharing a league title this winter. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)
Foster Loyer’s four-season career at Clarkston from 2014-15 through 2017-18 certainly must be considered among the most accomplished in state history as he led the Wolves to back-to-back Class A championships in 2017 and 2018 and is listed in the record book 25 times.
Among Loyer’s most notable entries were 2,325 career points (12th most), 272 career 3-pointers (tied for ninth), records of 119 consecutive free throws and 634 career free throws, a .921 free-throw percentage as a junior (tied for fourth) and .900 career percentage (second), 589 career assists (sixth), 278 career steals (15th) and 102 games played (tied for sixth).
Loyer went on to play at Michigan State and then Davidson.
See below for more recent record book entries for boys basketball.
Four Onaway standouts were added for single-season and/or career records. Jager Mix, who graduated in 2022, was added for 92 steals last season and 225 over his four-season career. Kevin Pearson, a 2021 grad, was added for 81 steals as a senior and 247 over his career. Joe Sigsby, a 2016 grad, was added for 127 steals, and Jadin Mix was added for 124 in 2021-22. Their totals rank ninth and tied for 10th, respectively, on that all-time list. Jager Mix also was added for 967 career rebounds, and Onaway as a team was added for tying the record for most points in a quarter with 49 during the first quarter of a win over Fife Lake Forest Area on Feb. 3, 2022. Jager Mix is playing at Alpena Community College, and Jadin Mix is a senior this school year.
Uchenna Amene was added for 11 steals in a March 7, 2022, game against West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy and for 97 steals total over 25 games. He was a sophomore at Southfield Christian that season and now is a senior at Detroit Catholic Central.
Owen Franklin graduated from Oscoda in 2021 as the school’s all-time leading scorer, and nearly 44 percent of those 1,477 points came on 3-pointers. Franklin made the state career 3-pointers list with 216 over four seasons. He’s playing baseball at Northwood.
Traverse City Christian sophomore Reece Broderick became one of the state’s most accomplished long-distance shooters in just his second year of high school this past winter, drilling 104 3-pointers – good for third-most for one season all-time – over 23 games. He connected on 42 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
A pair of Rudyard four-year varsity standouts entered the record book after their graduations in 2022. Tate Besteman made the career rebounds list with 762 over 89 games, and EJ Suggitt made the career 3-pointers list with 215 over the same 89 contests. Besteman played this past season for Mid Michigan College, and Suggitt is playing baseball at Spring Arbor.
Success from 3-point range played a significant role in Mesick finishing 21-1 in 2021-22, as the team made 195 of its 578 attempts – with game highs of 15 twice in wins over Baldwin and Pentwater.
Then-senior Tristan McFolley earned the first listing under single-game rebounds since 2013 with 30 in Detroit Cesar Chavez Academy’s game with Hope of Detroit Academy on Dec. 8, 2022.
Tawas found its groove from long range Jan. 10 against Oscoda, drilling 22 3-pointers in an 86-31 win. The total tied for fifth-most in one game.
Although Norway felt just short, 40-37, in its District loss to Crystal Falls Forest Park on March 8, Alex Ortman kept the Knights close scoring 20 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to make the single-quarter scoring list. He’s now a senior.
Kobe Clark has listings in two MHSAA record books, with three for boys basketball joining those he earned for football during his Schoolcraft career. He was added in hoops for 531 career assists and 290 career steals over 94 games from 2016-17 through 2019-20, and also for 82 steals as a senior. Tyler DeGroote also was added to the record book, for scoring 20 points during the first quarter against Delton Kellogg during Schoolcraft’s Jan. 11, 2022, victory. Clark began at Saginaw Valley State for football and now plays basketball and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and DeGroote is continuing at Rockhurst (Mo.).
Past Detroit Cooley star Larry Fogle has added a seventh record book listing a half-century later. Fogle grabbed 33 rebounds on Jan. 18, 1972, during a win over Detroit Mackenzie. He went on to play at Louisiana and Canisius, and then briefly with the New York Knicks.
Trevon Gunter scored 42 points in Kalamazoo Central’s 84-56 win over Richland Gull Lake on Jan. 17, 2020, including 31 during the third quarter – second-most and just one shy of the record for points during one period. A senior that season, Gunter plays currently at Grand Valley State.
Mark Wittbrodt held the record for consecutive free throws at 70 until 2008, and that entry in the record book has been joined by several others from the Bay City Western star. He was added for his 192 3-pointers, 436 free throws, .842 free-throw percentage and 266 career steals over three seasons from 1991-93, as well as for six single-season accomplishments. He went on to play at Michigan Tech.
Ellsworth’s Jacob Jenuwine tied for 12th on the single-game 3-pointers list when he connected on 11 as part of scoring 39 points total in his team’s Feb. 14 win over Alanson. Jenuwine graduated this spring.
Bellevue senior Dawson Wing capped his three-season varsity career last winter with three entries in the record. He was added for 12 blocked shots in a 2021-22 game against Colon, 107 for the season last winter and 203 blocks over his career. Teammate Caleb Betz, a senior this fall, was added for 12 steals in a game against Athens.
Logan Mansfield capped his Morenci career in a big way last winter. The senior drilled 90 3-pointers over 24 games to earn his school’s first individual record book entry in boys hoops since the 1987-88 season, when John Craig had 132 blocked shots that would have been the second-most recorded at that time. They currently rank 13th.
New Haven earned a pair of record book entries during its March 10 win over Memphis. The Rockets bested their previous single-quarter school record with 41 points during the opening period, and they also made the statewide single-game 3-pointers list with 16.
Whitehall’s Camden Thompson, a junior this fall, earned his first record book entry last winter – and the first for his school in boys basketball. He grabbed 303 rebounds over 21 games.
Grand Rapids Wellspring Prep junior Zeekeal Jackson earned his school's first boys basketball record book entry this past season as well. He made the single-season steals list with 106, over 22 games, and just missed the single-game list with a high of 10.
Jonesville’s Brady Wright was among his team’s leading scorers during his three varsity seasons ending this past winter, but he also was a major contributor defensively. He made the records with a season-high 101 steals over 25 games as a senior, and made the career list with 232 steals over 61 games.
Sophomore Christopher McLavish Jr. made a memorable impact last season with a pair of record book entries. He made the single-quarter points list with 20 in a Feb. 21 game against Flint Powers Catholic, but even more memorable were his 97 3-pointers over 25 games for the season – tying him for 11th all-time on that list.
PHOTO Foster Loyer directs Clarkston's offense during its 2018 Class A Semifinal.